On Wednesday, the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) released a report finding North Bergen School District to continue to violate 13 of the 15 state laws it was told to correct in a 2019 audit.
In the 2019 audit, OSC found faults in the school district’s fiscal and managerial procedures, specifically in the payment of employee benefits, along with neglecting to follow Public School Contracts Laws and inadequate administration of obtainments and payments for legal and public relations services. Following the survey, the OSC made 15 recommendations to the school district. North Bergen submitted a correction action plan to OSC to address the infractions.
In the 2022 follow-up report, the North Bergen School District only fully implemented two recommendations, partially implemented six recommendations, and “failed entirely” to implement the outstanding seven.
According to the OSC follow-up report, $125,116 was illegally given to 16 district employees for unused vacation leave, which is to roll over the subsequent year and not be able to cash out on at the end of the year. These school district employees included non-certified supervisors not covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), such as administrators and confidential employees. OSC recommended the North Bergen School District in 2019 to eliminate this vacation leave payout, but the District did not implement it.
Overpayments and malpractices such as these, as stated by the OSC report, “may lead to waste, [and] may lead to contract awards based on favoritism.” Accusations of nepotism in 2018 against Nicholas Sacco have been raised in the past, such as having ten relatives working in the education system, public magnet school, and the township.
$1.3 million was spent on outsourced chief legal services from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. The North Bergen School District included in their corrective action plan to assemble a committee to assess the district’s need for high-level lawyer services and the most cost-effective use of such services.
The school district told OSC during the 2022 review they had already discussed how to determine economic counsel services, but North Bergen failed to provide evidence when requested. The OSC reviewed the monthly Board meeting minutes and found no cost-benefit analysis or discussion records.
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